Summary (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Alan Wolfe, a sociologist and political scientist with a long and distinguished academic publication record, has become one of the United States’ premier public intellectuals. Although his earlier works often had the technicality required in the learned professions, they focused on issues central to the “big” conversations: repression of dissent, the Soviet threat, the costs of economic growth, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s controversial book The Bell Curve (1994), and the relation of moral inquiry in the social sciences. Typical of Wolfe’s efforts is The Human Difference: Animals, Computers, and the Necessity of Social Science (1994). Directed mainly at the university set, the book examines such critical issues as artificial intelligence, ecology, and sociobiology. Marginalized in the Middle (1998) treats immigration, race relations, public education, pornography, and gender politics, all from the perspective of a pragmatic liberalism informed by a wealth of data and sociological theory. In One Nation, After All: What Americans Really Think About God, Country, Family, Racism, Welfare, Immigration, Homosexuality, Work, The Right, The Left, and Each Other (1998), Wolfe discusses his work with the “Middle Class Morality Project,” an effort to go beyond polling by doing extensive interviews with small but representative groups of Americans. As the title indicates, Wolfe believes that despite the claims...
(The entire section is 2067 words.)
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